2019-2020 Annual Report to Parliament : The Administration of the Privacy Act

1 Introduction

The purpose of the Privacy Act is to extend to individuals the right of access to information about themselves held by the government, subject to specific and limited exemptions. It protects individuals’ privacy by preventing others from having access to their personal information and by affording individuals substantial control over how their personal information is collected, used, and disclosed.

1.1 Background

Section 72 of the Privacy Act requires that the head of every government institution prepare and submit to Parliament an annual report on the administration of the Act within the institution. This is the eighteenth report to Parliament on performance with respect to administration of the act by the Office of the Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces (the Office or the Office of the Ombudsman).

The Office of the Ombudsman is committed to openness and transparency about its administration and functioning. The Office endeavours to ensure that information about its work is widely disseminated and easily available. For example, the Ombudsman's annual reports, special reports and press releases are posted on the Office’s website as soon as they are released. The website also contains case studies and statistics on the Office's caseload, and educational material on subjects of interest to our constituents.

Critical to the resolution of complaint files and investigations is the confidentiality of the information provided by the constituents who come forward. Therefore, before any case study or report is released, identifying information is removed to ensure the protection of personal information and confidentiality of our communications.

As the Ombudsman’s Office is part of the Defence portfolio, disclosure of the Ombudsman’s travel and hospitality expenses, contracts over $10,000 and position reclassifications are reported on the National Defence website https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/corporate/transparency.html.

The Office of the Ombudsman proactively posts to its website correspondence between the Ombudsman and senior officials on matters of interest to our constituency. This initiative is in keeping with the Ombudsman’s goal of promoting transparency and with the Open Government initiative. In accordance with the Directive on Open Government, correspondence is reviewed prior to release to ensure it does not contain any information raising concerns about privacy, confidentiality or security. The Access to Information and Privacy Unit conducts the review of correspondence prior to release. Correspondence can be found on the Ombudsman website in the Letters and Statements section; at https://www.canada.ca/en/ombudsman-national-defence-forces/reports-news-statistics/ombudsman-letters.html.

1.2 Mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces

The first Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces was appointed in June 1998 by Governor in Council (Federal Cabinet). The creation of an Ombudsman institution was part of a wide range of initiatives brought forth by the Government of Canada to enhance the overall fairness and effectiveness of the military justice system, enhance the transparency of internal review mechanisms, streamline the Canadian Armed Forces grievance process, and promote greater openness, accountability and transparency within the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces.

The duties and functions of the Ombudsman are set out in the Ministerial Directives Respecting the Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/corporate/policies-standards/defence-administrative-orders-directives/5000-series/5047/5047-1-office-of-the-ombudsman.html.

The Ministerial Directives confirm that the Ombudsman and the Office operate outside the military chain of command as well as outside the civilian management of the Department of National Defence. The Ombudsman reports directly to, and is accountable only to, the Minister of National Defence, who is responsible for the management and direction of the Canadian Armed Forces and of all matters relating to national defence. However, the Ombudsman operates at arm’s-length from the Minister, preserving the Ombudsman’s independence from the executive function.

The Ministerial Directives governing the Office provide that the Ombudsman is to act, on the Minister’s behalf, as a neutral and objective sounding board, mediator, investigator and reporter on matters related to the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. The Ombudsman also acts as a direct source of information, referral and education to assist individuals in accessing existing internal channels of assistance and redress. The overall goal of the Office of the Ombudsman is to contribute to substantial and long-lasting improvements to the welfare of the Defence community.

Under the Ministerial Directives, the Ombudsman is required to issue an annual report to the Minister of National Defence on the operations of the Office. The Ministerial Directives further provide that the Ombudsman may publish reports concerning any investigation if the Ombudsman considers that it is in the public interest to do so.

1.3 Structure of the Access to Information and Privacy Unit 

The ATIP unit for the Office of the Ombudsman is part of the Legal Services

Directorate and is managed by the institution’s Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator. Pursuant to section 73 of the Privacy Act, the Minister of National Defence designated the Office’s ATIP Coordinator to exercise all powers and perform the duties and functions of the Minister under the Act as it concerns the Office of the Ombudsman. This arrangement reflects the Office’s independent, arm’s length relationship with the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces. A copy of the delegation order appears in Appendix A to this report.

A major challenge to the application of the ATIP legislation lies in the Ministerial Directives that establish the Office of the Ombudsman. One of the main functions of the Office is to conduct confidential investigations, yet the records are not fully protected by having either the status of an investigative body under the regulation or having a specific provision protecting the Office’s investigative records. A further challenge is caused by the fact that some of the information that is required by this Office to conduct its investigations is held by other parts of the Defence community that are designated as investigative bodies or who claim exemptions under the ATIP legislation.

Because of the interplay of the Office’s mandate and the ATIP legislation, legal guidance is often called upon to find the balance between the application of the mandate and compliance with the ATIP legislation, whether it be protection of personal information or access to information.

The ATIP Unit is responsible for the following activities:

The ATIP unit has one ATIP Officer who administers the processing of ATIP files, among other duties. The ATIP Unit also engages a consultant, on an as-needed basis, to assist with processing of requests.

2 Key Activities and Accomplishments

2.1 Education and Training Activities

Those responsible for the delivery of the Ombudsman’s ATIP services regularly attend learning activities presented by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Information and Privacy Policy Division and other learning institutions.

2.2 Institutional Privacy Policies and Procedures

The Office of the Ombudsman has not implemented any new and/or revised institution-specific policy, guideline or procedure during this reporting period.

2.3 Summary of Material Privacy Breaches

The Office of the Ombudsman did not have any material privacy breaches over the reporting period.

2.4 Privacy Impact Assessments

During the reporting period, no Privacy Impact Assessments or Preliminary Privacy Impact Assessments were initiated, completed or forwarded to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

2.5 Data Matching

No data matching or sharing activities were undertaken by the Office during the reporting period.

2.6 Disclosures under 8(2)(m) of the Privacy Act

Paragraph 8(2)(m) allows for the disclosure of personal information when the public interest clearly outweighs any invasion of privacy or when the disclosure would benefit the individual. There were no disclosures under paragraph 8(2)(m) during this reporting period.

2.7 Effects of COVID-19 Measures on ATIP activities

When the Ombudsman’s Office’s physical location was closed to comply with public health directives at the end of the fiscal year, ATIP employees had the means to monitor the email account remotely. Additionally, a mailroom employee was able to access the premises periodically in a safe manner, and to scan and forward any correspondence to the relevant employee. By these means, the Access to Information and Privacy section was ready to respond to any requests. 

However, there were no (0) requests between March 14 and March 31.

In addition to monitoring for any requests, the ATIP section made preparations to deal with any requests while complying with public health directives, through virtual discussions. Treasury Board Secretariat directions concerning the legal requirements applicable to the ATIP section’s activities were also reviewed and incorporated into the preparations. The ATIP coordinator was also involved in discussions about institutional business continuity plans, to ensure privacy considerations were taken into account in any decisions.

3 Statistical Report on the Administration of the Privacy Act

This section provides information about the processing of requests under the

Privacy Act. Appendix B provides a statistical summary of the requests received and/or finalized during this reporting period 2019-2020.

3.1 Formal Requests under the Privacy Act

The Office of the Ombudsman received seven (7) new requests under the Privacy Act during the period from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020. In three (3) cases, no records were found. For the four (4) formal transactions, the total number of pages reviewed was 3,390.

In all four (4) cases, partial disclosure was made. Three (3) requestors were provided with paper copies of their records, and one (1) with electronic copies.

There were no (0) requests for corrections to personal information in the reporting period.

3.2 Exemptions to the Release of Information

In the four (4) cases of partial disclosure, exemptions were invoked based on section 26 (personal information of another individual) of the Privacy Act. In one (1) request, information was also withheld on the basis of section 22(1)(b) (law enforcement) of the Act.

The Office of the Ombudsman does not receive a high volume of requests for personal information; over the last five years, the number of requests has ranged from four (4) to twelve (12). Therefore, it is not possible to report on trends with any statistical significance. Having said that, over the same five year time period, information was mainly withheld on the basis of sections 26 and 27 (solicitor-client privilege) of the Privacy Act.

3.3 Extension of the Time Limit

In six (6) cases, the requests were completed in less than 30 days. In one (1) case, an extension was taken under section 15(a)(ii) of the Privacy Act to consult with another government institution. The consultation took longer than the 30 day extension.

While the low volume of requests to the Office requires a caution as to the statistical significance of any trend analysis, it is possible to say that the vast majority of requests over the past five years have been completed within the statutory timeline of 30 days. During that period, the reason that an extension was required most often related to the need to consult with another organization prior to the release of the information. When delays relate to consultations, the Office attempts to provide the requestor with records that were not sent for consultation, and will release the remaining records once the consultation is complete.

3.4 Informal Privacy Requests

During the current reporting period the ATIP Unit processed two (2) informal requests, with a total of 187 pages.

The Office’s policy is to keep all parties informed of the progress of each case, and keep constituents informed of the status of their file.

3.5 Complaints and Audits

During this reporting period, no complaints were filed with the Privacy Commissioner regarding the handling of requests under the Privacy Act, and no audits or investigations were conducted.

3.6 Fees and Costs

There are no costs associated with ATIP specific software as the volume of requests does not warrant the expenditure.

4 Monitoring – Privacy Requests

The ATIP Unit uses a tracking spreadsheet to monitor processing times for privacy requests. The ATIP Coordinator reports to the senior management committee as necessary for their situational awareness. The senior management committee includes the Ombudsman, Directors General and Directors.

Annex 1: Delegation Order

Copy of Delegation Order

Sep 05 2002

Mr. André Marin

Department of National Defence

and Canadian Forces Ombudsman

12th Floor, 100 Metcalfe Street

Ottawa ON K1P 5M1

Dear Mr. Marin:

I would like to acknowledge and thank you for your letter, received on August 1, 2002, concerning the Designation Order for the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

I concur with your request and have signed the enclosed English and French copies of the Designation Order.

Once again, thank you for bringing this information to my attention.

Yours sincerely,

[signed]

The Honourable John McCallum, P.C., M.P.

Enclosures: 2

Designation Order

Access to Information and Privacy Act

The Minister of National Defence, persuant to section 73 of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act, hereby designates the person holding the position of Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator, Office of the Ombudsman, National Defence and Canadian Forces, to exercise all powers and perform the duties and functions of the Minister as the head of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces under the Acts, concerning the Office of the Ombudsman, National Defence and Canadian Forces.

In the absence of the Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator, Office of the Ombudsman, National Defence and Canadian Forces, the Minister, pursuant to section 73 of the Acts, hereby designates the person acting as Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator for the Office of the Ombudsman, National Defence and Canadian Forces, to exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions of the Minister under the Acts, concerning the Office of the Ombudsman, National Defence and Canadian Forces.

[signed]

The Honourable John McCallum, P.C.,

M.P. Minister of National Defence

Annex 2: Statistical Report on the Privacy Act

Statistical Report on the Privacy Act

Name of institution: Ombudsman for National Defence and Canadian Forces

Reporting period: 2019-04-01 to 2020-03-31

Section 1: Requests Under the Privacy Act

1.1 Number of requests

Number of Requests

Received during reporting period

7

Outstanding from previous reporting period

0

Total

7

Closed during reporting period

7

Carried over to next reporting period

0

 Section 2: Requests Closed During the Reporting Period

2.1 Disposition and completion time

Disposition of Requests

Completion Time

1 to 15 Days

16 to 30 Days

31 to 60 Days

61 to 120

Days

121 to

180 Days

181 to

365 Days

Than 365 Days

Total

All disclosed

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Disclosed in part

2

1

0

1

0

0

0

4

All exempted

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

All excluded

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

No records exist

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

3

Request abandoned

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Neither confirmed nor

denied

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

5

1

0

1

0

0

0

7

2.2 Exemptions

Section

Number of Requests

Section

Number of

Requests

Section

Number of

Requests

18(2)

0

22(1)(a)(i)

0

23(a)

0

19(1)(a)

0

22(1)(a)(ii)

0

23(b)

0

19(1)(b)

0

22(1)(a)(iii)

0

24(a)

0

19(1)(c)

0

22(1)(b)

1

24(b)

0

19(1)(d)

0

22(1)(c)

0

25

0

19(1)(e)

0

22(2)

0

26

4

19(1)(f)

0

22.1

0

27

0

20

0

22.2

0

27.1

0

21

0

22.3

0

28

0

22.4

0

2.3 Exclusions

Section

Number of Requests

Section

Number of Requests

Section

Number of Requests

69(1)(a)

0

70(1)

0

70(1)(d)

0

69(1)(b)

0

70(1)(a)

0

70(1)(e)

0

69.1

0

70(1)(b)

0

70(1)(f)

0

70(1)(c)

0

70.1

0


TBS/SCT 350-63

2.4 Format of information released

Paper

Electronic

Other

3

1

0

2.5 Complexity

2.5.1 Relevant pages processed and disclosed

Number of Pages

Processed

Number of Pages

Disclosed

Number of Requests

3390

3295

4

2.5.2 Relevant pages processed and disclosed by size of requests

Disposition

Less Than 100 Pages Processed

101-500

Pages Processed

501-1000

Pages Processed

1001-5000

Pages Processed

More Than 5000 Pages Processed

Number of Requests

Pages Disclosed

Number

of Requests

Pages Disclosed

Number

of Requests

Pages Disclosed

Number

of Requests

Pages Disclosed

Number

of Requests

Pages Disclosed

All disclosed

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Disclosed in part

1

64

0

0

1

651

2

2580

0

0

All exempted

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

All excluded

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Request abandoned

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Neither confirmed nor denied

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

1

64

0

0

1

651

2

2580

0

0

2.5.3 Other complexities

Disposition

Consultation Required

Legal Advice Sought

Interwoven Information

Other

Total

All disclosed

0

0

0

0

0

Disclosed in part

1

0

0

0

1

All

exempted

0

0

0

0

0

All excluded

0

0

0

0

0

Request

abandoned

0

0

0

0

0

Neither confirmed nor denied

0

0

0

0

0

Total

1

0

0

0

1

2.6 Closed requests

2.6.1 Number of requests closed within legislated timelines

Requests closed within legislated timelines

Number of requests closed within legislated timelines

6

Percentage of requests closed within legislated timelines (%)

85.7

2.7 Deemed refusals

2.7.1 Reasons for not meeting legislated timelines

Number of Requests Closed Past the Legislated Timelines

Principal Reason

Interference with Operations

/ Workload

External Consultation

Internal Consultation

Other

1

0

1

0

0

2.7.2 Requests closed beyond legislated timelines (including any extension taken)

Number of Days Past Legislated Timelines

Number of Requests Past Legislated Timeline Where No Extension Was Taken

Number of Requests Past Legislated Timelines Where an Extension Was Taken

Total

1 to 15 days

0

0

0

16 to 30 days

0

1

1

31 to 60 days

0

0

0

61 to 120 days

0

0

0

121 to 180 days

0

0

0

181 to 365 days

0

0

0

More than 365 days

0

0

0

Total

0

1

1

2.8 Requests for translation

Translation Requests

Accepted

Refused

Total

English to French

0

0

0

French to English

0

0

0

Total

0

0

0

Section 3: Disclosures Under Subsections 8(2) and 8(5)

Paragraph 8(2)(e)

Paragraph 8(2)(m)

Subsection 8(5)

Total

0

0

0

0

Section 4: Requests for Correction of Personal Information and Notations

Disposition for Correction Requests Received

Number

Notations attached

0

Requests for correction accepted

0

Total

0

Section 5: Extensions

5.1 Reasons for extensions and disposition of requests

Number of requests where an extension was taken

15(a)(i) Interference with operations

15 (a)(ii) Consultation

15(b)

Translation purposes or conversion

Further review required to determine exemptions

Large volume of pages

Large volume of requests

Documents are difficult to obtain

Cabinet Confidence Section (Section 70)

External

Internal

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

5.2 Length of extensions

Length of Extensions

15(a)(i) Interference with operations

15 (a)(ii) Consultation

15(b)

Translation purposes or conversion

Further review required to determine exemptions

Large volume of pages

Large volume of requests

Documents are difficult to obtain

Cabinet Confidence Section (Section 70)

External

Internal

1 to 15 days

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

16 to 30

days

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

31 days or

greater

0

Total

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

Section 6: Consultations Received From Other Institutions and Organizations

6.1 Consultations received from other Government of Canada institutions and other organizations

Consultations

Other Government of Canada Institutions

Number of Pages to Review

Other Organizations

Number of Pages to Review

Received during the reporting

period

0

0

0

0

Outstanding from the previous reporting period

0

0

0

0

Total

0

0

0

0

Closed during the reporting

period

0

0

0

0

Carried over to the next reporting

period

0

0

0

0

6.2 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other Government of Canada institutions

Recommendation

Number of Days Required to Complete Consultation Requests

1 to 15 Days

16 to 30 Days

31 to 60 Days

61 to

120

Days

121 to 180 Days

181 to

365

Days

More

Than 365

Days

Total

All disclosed

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Disclosed in part

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

All exempted

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

All excluded

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Consult other institution

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Other

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

6.3 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other organizations

Recommendation

Number of days required to complete consultation requests

1 to 15 Days

16 to 30 Days

31 to 60 Days

61 to

120

Days

121 to 180 Days

181 to

365

Days

More

Than 365

Days

Total

All disclosed

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Disclosed in part

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

All exempted

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

All excluded

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Consult other institution

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Other

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Section 7: Completion Time of Consultations on Cabinet Confidences

7.1 Requests with Legal Services

Number of Days

Fewer Than 100 Pages Processed

101-500 Pages Processed

501-1000

Pages Processed

1001-5000

Pages Processed

More than 5000 Pages Processed

Number of Requests

Pages Disclosed

Number of Requests

Pages Disclosed

Number of Requests

Pages Disclosed

Number of Requests

Pages Disclosed

Number of Requests

Pages Disclosed

1 to 15

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

16 to 30

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

31 to 60

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

61 to 120

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

121 to 180

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

181 to 365

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

More than

365

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

7.2 Requests with Privy Council Office

Number of Days

Fewer Than 100 Pages Processed

101‒500 Pages Processed

501-1000

Pages Processed

1001-5000

Pages Processed

More than 5000 Pages Processed

Number of Requests

Pages Disclosed

of Requests

Pages Disclosed

of Requests

Pages Disclosed

of Requests

Pages Disclosed

of Requests

Pages Disclosed

1 to 15

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

16 to 30

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

31 to 60

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

61 to 120

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

121 to 180

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

181 to 365

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

More than 365

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Section 8: Complaints and Investigations Notices Received

Section 31

Section 33

Section 35

Court action

Total

0

0

0

0

0

Section 9: Privacy Impact Assessments (PIA) and Personal Information Banks (PIB)

9.1 Privacy Impact Assessments

Number of PIA(s) completed   0

9.2 Personal Information Banks

Personal Information Banks

Active

Created

Terminated

Modified

44

0

0

0

 Section 10: Material Privacy Breaches

Number of material privacy breaches reported to TBS

0

Number of material privacy breaches reported to OPC

0

Section 11: Resources Related to the Privacy Act

11.1 Costs

Expenditures

Amount

Salaries

$26,165

Overtime

$0

Goods and Services

$90

• Professional services contracts

$0

• Other

$90

Total

$26,255

11.2 Human Resources

Resources

Person Years Dedicated to Privacy Activities

Full-time employees

0.29

Part-time and casual employees

0.00

Regional staff

0.00

Consultants and agency personnel

0.00

Students

0.00

Total

0.29

Note: Enter values to two decimal places.

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